Cathy A. (because I only just learned how to pronounce her last name at the CNMC, and she will be Cathy A. to me no matter what) has been blogging for quite some time. Her blog name, in fact, “from the field of blue children,” is a whole story in and of itself. (What’s not to love?) She’s a mom of many, a grandma to a few more, and, overall, a lovely person. Though I hesitated to post some of this (hey, it’s MY blog!), I did promise her free rein, and I guess she was saying NICE things, so… Thanks, Cathy, for bringing all your generosity and grace to Real Life, just as you have, all these years, online.

I was so busy looking for the hat that I almost missed her.

There were rumors that a “certain someone” would be attending last weekend’s Catholic New Media Celebration sporting a cool new chapeau, and meeting the wearer was high on my list.  I had, after all, been a follower of her blog practically from the day back in 2008 when I became a blogger myself.

I was in Boston to attend the conference, glean wisdom and practical tips from the illustrious attendees, and become the kind of new media maven God had certainly created me to be.  I was also there to stand in the same room with some of my heroes, more than a bit starstruck, and wonder that I had been given the opportunity to make a real difference with the talents and tools with which I’d been blessed.

And I did want to see that hat.

More importantly, I wanted to see the woman wearing it. I know Sarah will blush when she reads this, and her humility will push her to the point that she won’t want to print this post, but she’ll have to, because she offered me the guest post spot and I snatched it up.  (I think the truth is that she was too busy planning for the weekend to find a better option, but that’s beside the point!) I was eager to write for her this week not only because it is an honor to be a guest in such a lovely place, but because I saw it as an opportunity to do something Sarah would never do here.  It gave me a chance to tell you about the REAL Sarah.

Oooh, now things are getting interesting!  Will this turn into an expose, a revelation of shocking new THIS JUST IN-style tabloid gossip?

Well, the hat was pretty spicy.

And the woman wearing it?  She’s just as wonderful as you think she is.

Now, before you start thinking this is just one big kiss-up post from a guest blogger looking for readers, I must reveal my motivation.  I set off for Boston for all the reasons mentioned above, and more. I wanted to discover the heartbeat of the new media movement, and that meant meeting the people behind it.  I love reading blogs, listening to podcasts, and eating up the latest YouTube – or better yet, CatholicTV – videos.  Like many new media consumers, I think the vibrant content so readily available to us is a delightful feast that keeps me well fed, entertained and enlightened. But I know that it really is, after all, about people.

Everything in life is about relationships. All that really matters is how we develop the relationships in our lives.   That’s it.  If we get the relationships right – those between us and God, between ourselves and our neighbors – it’s all good.

That’s why I wanted to meet Sarah, and the other attendees at the conference.  I wanted to shake their hands and thank them.  I wanted to tell them that what they were doing was making an impact in my life.  I needed to see their smiles and hear the enthusiasm in their voices while they talked about their work and about the One they were doing it all for.

One of the bloggers I had the pleasure of meeting, the bright young Papist Thomas Peters, told me that he has a theory about faithful Catholics.  Recalling the six degrees of separation that supposedly connect each of us with a particular actor, he said he’s sure that those of us who love the Church are separated by far less. “I’m convinced there is only one degree of separation between us,” he shared, and I think he’s right.  Being in a room with these wonderful people was an edifying reminder that we really are a close-knit family, this Body of Christ to which we belong.

And as for Sarah?  She’s humble, smart and witty.  She’s genuine and real, just exactly as I knew she’d be.  She’s adorable, with or without the hat.

We chatted for a few moments, took a few snapshots, and discovered we shared a love for red wine.  It was wonderful to bring into the Real World a relationship, a “cyberfriendship” but an honest-to-goodness relationship, nonetheless.  It was refreshing to meet Sarah and the others like her who are using their gifts to give the internet a soul, as our Holy Father has suggested. 

And it was great to know that in this age of new media, we really aren’t more than a degree apart.